Race for top four: The run-in

Tuesday 05 April 2022 11:40

The Champions League qualification picture has changed again, following the first Premier League matchday after the international break.

Tottenham currently occupy fourth spot after their 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle on Sunday and they have benefited from a significant goal-difference swing over Arsenal, who fell to a surprise 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace on Monday.

The Gunners are level on 54 points with Spurs, although they have a game in hand on their local rivals – Mikel Arteta’s side will take on Chelsea on 20 April, in a fixture moved from February due to the latter’s involvement in the Club World Cup.

Thomas Tuchel’s men are still not totally secure in third place after a shock reverse at home to Brentford, although with 59 points and nine games still to play, it will take a few further negative results for the Blues to drop out of the top-four places.

West Ham United and Manchester United sit three points further back from the north London clubs, on 51 points. The Hammers beat relegation-threatened Everton on Sunday and sit above the Reds on goal difference, although they have played a game more than us – our visit to Liverpool was delayed a month as a result of the Merseysiders’ continued Emirates FA Cup participation.

The remaining fixtures for the season were also made available on Monday, so let’s take a look at the runners and riders…

United's May schedule update


The rest of the Reds' campaign has been arranged by the Premier League.


Played: 30
Points: 54
Goal difference: +15

Antonio Conte’s side have won their last three games since losing 3-2 to the Reds in March, so form is on their side, but their campaign looks like it will be decided by a tough-looking trio of fixtures against Leicester, Liverpool and Arsenal at the end of April and beginning of May.

9 April – Aston Villa (A)
16 April – Brighton (H)
23 April – Brentford (A)
30 April – Leicester (H)
7 May – Liverpool (A)
12 May – ARSENAL (H)
15 May – Burnley (H)
22 May – Norwich (A)


Played: 29
Points: 54
Goal difference: +10

The Gunners have won 10 of their last 14 league fixtures but the Palace defeat leaves them outside of the top four and with each of their Champions League rivals still to play. United’s visit on St George’s Day follows hot on the heels of Chelsea v Arsenal, while Mikel Arteta’s side have to travel to West Ham and Tottenham in May.

9 April – Brighton (H)
16 April – Southampton (A)
20 April – Chelsea (A)
23 April – UNITED (H)
1 May – WEST HAM (A)
8 May – Leeds (H)
12 May – TOTTENHAM (A)
16 May – Newcastle (A)
22 May – Everton (H)
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Played: 31
Points: 51
Goal difference: +11

The Hammers are in contention for a second successive year, although their number-one priority will be the Europa League; they face Lyon in the quarter-finals which get under way this week. Six of their last seven fixtures are therefore scheduled for a Sunday, so more often than not they will be playing after their rivals.

10 April – Brentford (A)
17 April – Burnley (H)
24 April – Chelsea (A)
1 May – ARSENAL (H)
7 May – Norwich (A)
15 May – Man City (H)*
22 May – Brighton (A)
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Played: 30
Points: 51
Goal difference: +8

Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Leicester was a disappointing result, but United now have two games against struggling sides before a huge week where we travel to arch-rivals Liverpool and Champions League challengers Arsenal. The fixture with Chelsea in May, following games against Brentford and Brighton, will move if the Blues beat Crystal Palace – who we face on the final day – in the FA Cup semi-final.

9 April – Everton (A)
16 April – Norwich (H)
19 April – Liverpool (A)
23 April – ARSENAL (A)
2 May – Brentford (H)
7 May – Brighton (A)
15 May – Chelsea (H)*
22 May – Crystal Palace (A)

*Date is to be confirmed

Eighth-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers (31 games played, 49 points) are not totally out of the picture although they do still have to play Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.

As things stand, the top four will qualify for the 2022/23 Champions League, with fifth assuring themselves of a Europa League spot and sixth going into the Europa Conference League.

This could change, depending on who wins the Emirates FA Cup – if it’s a side which already qualifies for Europe through the league, fifth and sixth will go into the Europa League, and seventh will enter the Europa Conference League.